Russell's first-rate debut features taut plotting, liberal action and an attractively modest hero: Royal Navy Lt. Charles Hayden. In 1793, Britain is at war with revolutionary France, and Hayden, the son of an English father and a French mother, feels "torn in half." Denied a promotion, he reluctantly accepts appointment as first lieutenant to the frigate Themis: the commander, Capt. Josiah Hart, has powerful connections in the Admiralty, but is widely disparaged among the fleet as a tyrannical coward. Hayden is dismayed to find the ship in "a state of dreadful disarray," the crew on the verge of mutiny and Hart hostile to Hayden's remedial efforts. With the French in sight, tensions aboard come to a boil. Russell writes knowledgeably about late-18th-century naval warfare and lyrically about the sea. In Hayden, he has created a complex, sympathetic hero. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Lieutenant Hayden is one of the most compelling and attractive heroes to appear in some time...This nascent series has ample firepower for a long run.
[A] strong naval saga with vivid sea battles, strong characterizations, and a deep sense of time and place.
Fans of Patrick O'Brian's works and other novels in the naval adventure genre will enjoy Russell's first novel, which takes place aboard the HMS Themisduring the 1793 naval war between England and revolutionary France. The Themissets sail with a crew on the verge of mutiny, owing to Capt. Josiah Hart's cowardice and cruelty. Battles with both the crew and the French navy insure a fast-paced and eventful narrative as the novel builds toward a climactic confrontation between Hart and 1st Lt. Charles Hayden. The contrast between Hayden's heroism and Hart's villainy often seems a bit too sharply drawn; however, Russell produces a satisfying resolution to their conflict while avoiding a storybook happy ending. The novel benefits from thorough research and a mastery of the technical details of sailing in the 1790s, though lines like "the back line, reeved through a block made fast to one of the shear heads, was then hauled" will have landlubbers frequently reaching for their nautical dictionaries. Russell is currently working on a sequel to be set in the Mediterranean in 1794. Recommended for medium to large libraries.
A young British officer takes to the high seas in this seafaring adventure circa 1793. Debut novelist Russell delves deep into the oceans popularized by Patrick O'Brian to launch a new series about his own budding Master and Commander. The author's classically flavored adventure tale is slow to get moving, but ultimately the book's resourceful, conflicted hero carries the day. This book is set during the glory years of the British Navy leading up to the Napoleonic Wars, and its leading man is Lieutenant Charles Hayden, a rising officer in a growing British fleet in desperate conflict with France. Though his military record is sound, he finds it difficult to gain trust owing to his complicated lineage-a French mother and an American father do not suggest a loyal servant to Queen and country. Nevertheless, Hayden's Francophone talents and resolute spirit are both put to the test during his first assignment. He is assigned to the Themis, a newly built vessel that has been spoiled by its self-indulgent master. Captain Hart is a corpulent hack with political connections who has strong compulsions for both rum and the lash. In addition to his regular duties, Hayden must temper Hart's unbalanced leadership, take the measure of the rogues and misfits under his command and keep an eye out for a murderous mutineer who lurks among the men. The young lieutenant must also whip the crew into fighting shape to take on the French privateers gunning for his ship's hull and somehow follow the maniacal orders of his cowardly captain, including a poorly thought-out and potentially deadly incursion into enemy territory. This tale of the Age of Sail is a bit languid in places, owing chiefly to its historicalrichness, but it finds its wind soon enough. A colorful account of duty and honor, punctuated by the cannonade of naval warfare.